Reader: Denver Needs the Tattered Cover, and Tattered Needs Denver!

The downtown store will be moving from this building, where it's been almost two decades.
The downtown store will be moving from this building, where it's been almost two decades.
Tattered Cover
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The Tattered Cover, the independent bookstore chain that got its start in Denver almost fifty years ago, has changed hands. An investment group — led by lifelong Denver book lovers and businessmen Kwame Spearman and David Back — has purchased the company from Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan, who took over the Tattered Cover bookstore from the legendary Joyce Meskis in 2017.

"The stores have been a lynchpin of thought, creativity, and culture since 1971," said Vlahos and Gilligan in announcing the sale, "and we have been both proud and humbled to participate in its success these last several years."

Those last few years were tough for bookstores across the country, but the pandemic made the business almost impossible. Now Tattered seems to have a survival plan in place, and is ready to start a new chapter...one that readers applaud in their comments on our Facebook posts of the Tattered sale saga. Says Michele:

Yes! Denver needs the Tattered Cover and the Tattered Cover needs Denver! Thank you!!

Adds Kate:

I sincerely hope they keep it comfortable and homey instead of polished and trendy.

Remembers Marty: 

I always loved how you could get tucked away and lost in the Cherry Creek location. I spent lots of days there as a child, and the employees were always so patient with me asking about when books would be released.

Responds Cheryl: 

I love the Colfax location so much more. It just had more charm and history and brought life to that neighborhood. Cherry Creek had changed so much and TC just didn't fit in anymore. I also love the downtown location. I am glad it has new owners now.

Warns Steven:

I LOVE the Tattered Cover (loved it more when it was in Cherry Creek), but the cold, hard reality is that this business model has been replaced. I just purchased a book on Amazon for $25...delivered to my doorstep in two days for FREE. The same book at the Tattered Cover was $75! I am all about supporting local business, but they have to be competitive in the marketplace.

Notes Doug:

The pandemic has been terrible for brick-and-mortar book stores across the country. Prior to March 2020. Amazon accounted for 35 percent of book sales. Since then, Amazon's share has jumped to 60 percent.

Concludes Lewis:

Let's hope the new owners can stand strong for Joyce Meskis's vision of a truly independent bookstore and put their hard work where their sentimentality led them to buy Tattered Cover. When bookstores cave to political pressures, the slope gets mighty slippery for the next political group's demands. People need to grow up: Your pet cause is not more important than free speech itself. I'm very disheartened that Lighthouse Writers, of any group, could be so short-sighted as to demand TC promote one political view, when any one of their students could be put through the grinder over not meeting the demands of every single group that's now demanding it.

BTW, you too must stay strong against this wave of anti-free speech BS, Westword.

The tough business environment wasn't the only challenge that Tattered Cover faced this year. After the owners issued a statement saying they were staying neutral on the Black Lives Matter movement, the blowback included a boycott threat, and they quickly recanted.

But that position also drew criticism. Now, with a Black CEO, Tattered is indeed starting a new chapter. What do you think of the stores? The sale? Post a comment or share your thoughts at editorial@westword.com.

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